Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 425 Views Feb 5, 2024

The human pathogenic yeast Candida albicans can attach to epithelial cells or indwelling medical devices to form biofilms. These microbial communities are highly problematic in the clinic as they reduce both sensitivity to antifungal drugs and detection of fungi by the immune system. Amyloid structures are highly organized quaternary structures that play a critical role in biofilm establishment by allowing fungal cells to adhere to each other. Thus, fungal amyloids are exciting targets to develop new antifungal strategies. Thioflavin T is a specific fluorescent dye widely used to study amyloid properties of target proteins in vitro (spectrophotometry) and in vivo (epifluorescence/confocal microscopy). Notably, thioflavin T has been used to demonstrate the ability of Als5, a C. albicans adhesin, to form an amyloid fiber upon adhesion. We have developed a pipeline that allows us to study amyloid properties of target proteins using thioflavin T staining in vitro and in vivo, as well as in intact fungal biofilms. In brief, we used thioflavin T to sequentially stain (i) amyloid peptides, (ii) recombinant proteins, (iii) fungal cells treated or not with amyloid peptides, (iv) fungal amyloids enriched by cell fractionation, and (v) intact biofilms of C. albicans. Contrary to other methods, our pipeline gives a complete picture of the amyloid behavior of target proteins, from in vitro analysis to intact fungal biofilms. Using this pipeline will allow an assessment of the relevance of the in vitro results in cells and the impact of amyloids on the development and/or maintenance of fungal biofilm.

Key features

• Study of amyloid properties of fungal proteins.

• Visualization of the subcellular localization of fungal amyloid material using epifluorescence or confocal microscopy.

• Unraveling of the amyloid properties of target proteins and their physiological meaning for biofilm formation.

• Observation of the presence of amyloid structures with live-cell imaging on intact fungal biofilm using confocal microscopy.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 6763 Views Aug 20, 2017
We have developed protocols to generate site-specific variants of the histidine-kinase DesK and its cognate response regulator DesR, conducive to trapping different signaling states of the proteins. Co-expression of both partners in E. coli, ensuring an excess of the regulator, was essential for soluble production of the DesK:DesR complexes and further purification. The 3D structures of the complex trapped in the phosphotransferase and in the phosphatase reaction steps, were solved by X-ray crystallography using molecular replacement. The solution was not trivial, and we found that in silico-generated models used as search probes, were instrumental to succeeding in placing a large portion of the complex in the asymmetric unit. Electron density maps were then clear enough to allow for manual model building attaining complete atomic models. These methods contribute to tackling a major challenge in the bacterial signaling field, namely obtaining stable kinase:regulator complexes, in distinct conformational states, amenable for high-resolution crystallographic studies.
0 Q&A 11384 Views Jan 20, 2017
The ability to stabilize other proteins against thermal aggregation is one of the major characteristics of chaperone proteins. Molecular chaperones bind to nonnative conformations of proteins. Folding of the substrate is triggered by a dynamic association and dissociation cycles which keep the substrate protein on track of the folding pathway (Figure 1). Usually molecular chaperones exhibit differential affinities with different conformations of the substrate. With the exception of the sHsp family of molecular chaperones, the shift from a high-affinity binding state to the low-affinity release state is triggered by ATP binding and hydrolysis (Haselback and Buchner, 2015). Aggregation prevention assay is a simple, yet definitive assay to determine the chaperone activity of heat labile proteins such as Maltodextrin glucosidase (MalZ), Citrate Synthase (CS) and NdeI. This is based on the premise that proteins with chaperone like activity should prevent protein substrates (MalZ, CS and NdeI) from thermal aggregation. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for aggregation prevention assay using two different chaperone proteins, resistin and MoxR1, identified from our lab. Resistin, a human protein (hRes) and MoxR1 a Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein were analysed for their effect on prevention of MalZ/Citrate Synthase (CS)/NdeI aggregation.

Figure 1. Mechanism of action of molecular chaperones. Citrate synthase folds via increasingly structured intermediates (I1, I2) from the unfolded state (U) to the folded state (N). Under heat shock conditions, this process is reversed.
0 Q&A 7994 Views Nov 5, 2015
The topology of membrane proteins and enzymes can be determined using various methods including reporter protein fusions and accessibility of cysteine residues to alkylating agents. Here we describe a variation of the substituted cysteine accessibility method to determine membrane topology and activity of enzymes containing an active site cysteine. Membrane topology of proteins can be predicted using different programs and the actual membrane topology can be determined by monitoring the accessibility of cysteine residues introduced in periplasmic (exposed) or cytoplasmic (not exposed) loops to alkylating agents. A two-step protocol is described where whole Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells are first treated with or without a membrane impermeable thiol reagent (2-sulfonatoethyl)-methane thiosulfonate (MTSES) and subsequently labeled with an alkylating reagent maleimide polyethyleneglycol (malPEG). When cysteine residues are accessible to MTSES, and thus exposed to (or accessible from) the periplasm, their free thiol groups covalently react with MTSES and consequently, are blocked for alkylation with malPEG. The thiol groups of cytoplasmic or membrane-embedded cysteine residues are not accessible to MTSES and proteins can be alkylated with malPEG resulting in an increase in molecular weight of 5 kDa. In the second part of the protocol, accessibility of cysteine residues is used to address the acylation state of enzymes that form stable thioester acyl intermediates. Thioesters can be specifically cleaved by neutral hydroxylamine, leading to a free thiol group of the active site cysteine that can then be alkylated with malPEG.
2 Q&A 21940 Views Nov 20, 2014
Pathological proteins in neurodegenerative diseases suffer a conformational change to a misfolded amyloid state. Such pathological event leads to the aggregation of these proteins that indefinitely propagates as an altered form of itself, and harbor prion-like properties (Wickner, 1994; Prusiner, 2012). In addition to diseases, prions can also have beneficial adaptive roles in lower eukaryotes (in fungi and yeast) (Eaglestone et al., 1999; True et al., 2004; Coustou et al., 1999). Besides separating polymers from their precursor soluble monomers, another particular difficulty of the study of amyloid proteins is to resolve the heterogeneity of the aggregates, since these usually exhibit a variable degree of polymorphism. Semi-denaturating detergent agarose gel electrophoresis (SDD-AGE) is a technique that takes advantage of both the property of prions and prion-like polymers to be highly resistant to solubilization by SDS detergent, and the large pores sizes of agarose, that allow the resolution of high molecular weight complexes. In this method, we describe in detail how this technique can be used to characterize heterogeneous aggregation in bacteria and yeast (Gasset-Rosa et al., 2014; Molina-García and Giraldo, 2014), and further be applied to study the aggregation pattern of proteins that become prone to aggregation through genetic manipulation.
0 Q&A 9371 Views Apr 20, 2014
Zonal sedimentation analysis on sucrose gradients allows estimation of the molecular size of an individual protein or a protein complex by centrifugation at a constant speed under nondenaturing conditions. This method is particularly suitable for globular proteins like the influenza A virus (IAV) protein hemagglutinin (HA). Here, I describe step by step a protocol used to evaluate the oligomeric state of recombinant HA trimers (Magadan et al., 2013).

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